Claranet, the largest privately owned ISP in the UK, ran a program to identify emails containing the Anna Kournikova virus. However, because this procedure interfered with the delivery of mail, Claranet fears it may have contravened the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act.
‘We do not want to break the law,’ said Steve Rawlinson, chief technical officer at Claranet. ‘
We have reasons for what we did, but the way the RIP Act is drafted is unclear. We would like clarification from the Home Office, either in the Code of Practice or in secondary legislation.’
Liberal Democrat MP Richard Allan said that ISPs in the UK needed clarification in order to remain competitive with rivals in other countries.
‘ISPs need clear guidance on what defence for interception is available and what kind of contracts they should draw up with customers,’ he said. ‘A duty falls on the Home Office and the Department of Trade and Industry to provide guidance.’
Tim Snape, council member of the ISP Association, said that ISPs needed a business reason for interception and should tell customers about the situation to limit the chance of falling foul of the Act. ‘The concern is a valid one. Claranet may have technically breached RIP, but it did what it should have done.’
The Home Office said it had ensured the clarity of RIP by publishing the Act on its website together with explanatory notes. ‘The implementation team is happy to answer questions,’ a spokesperson said.
- First published in Network News
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